Healthy Eating: Lemons
History of Lemons
Did your mouth already pucker when you read the title? We all know that lemons are sour. That's because they are made up of five to six percent citric acid. Add a little sugar and water to that sour juice and you have an easy to make drink -- lemonade.
The lemon tree is native to Asia. Ancient Romans probably enjoyed their first lemons around the First Century A.D. Europeans did not widely cultivate the fruit, though, and it was six hundred more years before the lemon found its way to Persia and Egypt. By 1000 A.D., the lemon was cultivated in the Mediterranean area. It is said that Christopher Columbus took lemon seeds with him on the voyaged in which he landed in America. By the 1800s, most American lemons were grown on opposite coasts, in Florida and California.
Lemons have come to be associated with negatives. For instance, a bad car is called a lemon. When we have a bad situation that we need to improve, it is called making lemonade from lemons. Hopefully, you will not let this negative connotation affect your perception of the actual fruit. It has lots of positive benefits.
Benefits of Lemons
Today, we use the lemon for many purposes. It's anti-inflammatory properties make lemon slices a great add-on in a glass of water. They also help the liver function better by stimulating the organ's natural enzymes. The citric acid in lemons can help clean out arteries and eliminate kidney stones. They are also said to slow the growth of some cancers. These tart little fruits are also high in Vitamin C. That means they boost your immunity, too!
Adding lemons to your daily diet is as easy as squeezing one into water. Wash your lemon, then squeeze its juice into a pitcher of water. Drop the lemon halves into the pitcher too. Refrigerate or leave it on the counter. Drink the water throughout the day.
You can also drizzle lemon juice on chicken or fish and top with black pepper for a lemon-pepper main dish that tastes great. If you really love sour things, I suppose you could even eat lemon slices plain!
Lemons are convenient because you can get the lemony flavor (and its nutritional benefits) several ways. You can benefit from a fresh lemon, its rind, and from juice concentrate. But which is better – fresh lemon or concentrate? The answer depends on what you’re looking for in a lemon.
Comparing Lemons to Lemons
A cup of lemon juice from concentrate is about 10 calories less than a cup of a fresh, peeled lemon. The juice has fewer carbs, too – 4 g less, to be exact. The tables turn when it comes to protein. The fresh lemon offers 2.3 g while the juice is only good for 1 g. Fresh lemon is higher in vitamins A and C, too. As a matter of fact, the fresh peeled lemon offers twice as much Vitamin C as the juice. Calcium in the fresh lemon is twice that of the juice, too. Either is a good source of calcium, although the fresh lemon provides a few more grams than the juice concentrate.